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Hillary Clinton's debate problem: She's a woman named Hillary Clinton

I'm seeing friends, right and left, suggest that Hillary Clinton failed to land a knockout blow against Donald Trump in tonight's debate. I'm not so worried: I think Clinton knows, after Friday's release of the "Billy Bush" tape, that she's ahead on points, and she doesn't have to work too aggressively to win the championship.

Here's the problem: She's a woman named Hillary Clinton.

This is the woman who commentators tell to smile more one debate, smile less then next. She's a woman who faces the same issue many professional women do — act too aggressively and you're a bitch. Moderate your presentation and you come across as a shrinking violet. No woman can win by those standards — indeed, they're not supposed to.

Hillary, after decades in the public eye, is ultra-aware of the dynamic. So: If she presses the case too hard against Trump tonight, there's an excellent chance that lots of post-debate pundits are using b-word euphemisms to describe her tonight. The knockout blow expected from a man in her situation would likely be used against her.

So. She lets her opponent punch himself out. It's not like people are going to like the Billy Bush tape tomorrow morning. She just had to stay on her feet and not let Donald land a clean hit. It's not the genital-measuring contest we might've expected to see between two male candidates, but it does require patience. And for better or worse, Donald was right: She does have that patience. She never gives up. Her fighting style is the one that's best suited to who she is.


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I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

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